The Heat Surge Amish Heater

Popped open a copy of USA Today in between flights yesterday, and what should I find but another full-page ad for the ‘Amish miracle heater’.

I was hoping to avoid the heater issue as it’s been covered enough elsewhere, but looks like there is a lot of fresh reporting just out.  Good Amish heater analysis at as well as a Philly Fox News report from yesterday.

A post in the LA Times business blog explains that the company which produces the mantles, based in Canton, Ohio, gets the heat-unit parts from China.  The wood bits come from Amish producers, located nearby (though the definition of what makes a business ‘Amish’ is another point of contention).

The first ad, around since at least early last year, was borderline at best.  Apparently these are ‘real Amish people’, but ones that agreed to be pictured if the photos “focus on the quality of the product.”

But the second, which has been run in Rolling Stone magazine, takes ‘mind-boggling’ light-years further.  A pair of nude women on a bed, gazing at an Amish mantle, complete with a bottle of champagne and two glasses.  Ouch.

The first ad was toeing if not crossing the line.  But hard to imagine an Amish producer giving explicit agreement for the second.  And if it did, that’s a business that’s really run itself off the rails.

Hard to think of anything more offensive to typical Amish sensibilities.  Or a bigger disconnect between the marketing of a product and the reality.

Needless to say, this type of thing is exactly what the average Amish business owner does not want to be associated with.  Scanning opinion a bit, I just spoke with an Amish entrepreneur who predictably expressed disgust at the whole idea.  Another Amish friend commented that ‘this thing is so fake it doesn’t even raise my ire.’  Though some Amish furniture shops have apparently been involved in a limited fashion (providing the woodwork that houses the electric heating unit), the company that makes the heater, “Heat Surge”, is not an Amish one.

The Amish ‘brand’ is one of the strengths of Amish businesses and this has to be tarnishing it, and on a national scale.

But probably not permanently–I have to give the average consumer more credit-for-brains than that.  Though it’s not the kind of thing that most Amish business owners would want more of.

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    1. Dave Carrig

      Yep –

      I’m a subscriber to USA Today – and I see the ad for this product on almost a daily basis. Anyone who lives around the Amish or knows anything about them knows that the ad is a total joke.

      The Amish are easy “commercial” targets – and as is evident from my own experiences in Lancaster – easily exploited by having their name and likeness plastered all over the place in the name of commercialism.

      But I must say this – despite the dishonesty of the company in using the Amish as advertising scapegoats – I’ve heard it is actually a pretty good product. Regardless, I’ll freeze to death before I pay money to a company that exploits a group of people because its a fair bet they won’t do anything about it….

    2. Amish heater infomercial accuracy

      I had a chance to see the Amish miracle heater infomercial for a second time last night (just got back to USA, so dealing with some jet lag). Lot of Amish footage, including some testimony from an ‘Aaron Garber’

      I was trying to see if I recognized anyone. But needless to say, that can be tough. I recall a friend telling me how to find his son at an auction. ‘Look for the guy with the beard!’

      I guess these are folks from both Geauga and Holmes area. The thing is, I don’t know how much they are being exploited, as it seems they are pretty complicit in it. The ones that are not involved will take the hit, if there is any.

      What surprises me in this case is that the Amish, but for rare exceptions, tend not to put ‘Amish’ out there so blatantly on the things they sell, though they won’t shy away from less obvious associations.

      This is trumpeting the Amish name about as loud as one can.

      I also think that as soon as you have a late-night infomercial, you’ve pretty much downgraded most people’s perception of you.

      I know it’s just a non-Amish company, but implicit license has been given here by a number of Amish. I imagine this is a home run for them, but I don’t know how wise it is, long-run. Or if they have done such a favor for the hundreds of Amish furniture makers not participating.

      On the other hand, to be a bit contrarian, now I’m wondering if this won’t perhaps benefit Amish furniture makers as a whole? Not everyone is aware that the Amish make furniture. Undoubtedly, after these miracle heater campaigns, many more do now.

      Dave, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

    3. Jim Van

      The main ‘actor’ in the ad is Jonas and he is not Amish. Most of the others are not Amish either. I’ve spoken to Jonas on several occasions about this ad. He’s not even in the furniture business! He told me how he got into it & how much he got paid. One thing that needs to be very clear is that the Amish are not selling these things. The ad says the Amish put a strict limit of 2 per household. The shops involved are contracted for the assembly. They are supplied all the pre-cut materials. Young teens (not craftsmen of fine furniture) form an assembly line and really knock out the numbers. They are sprayed with a supplied no-wipe stain (not hand rubbed). This Canton, OH marketing company is the same one that sells coins, diet pills, uncut dollar bills, joint pills, etc. The marketing is the same – full page ads, urgency (must order in 48 hrs), limit (2 per household), and the link to some reputable organization. If I were a professor of marketing, I’d use these ads as an example of very clever & deceptive marketing. The sad part is, it’s usually the elderly that fall for this stuff. By the way, most Amish furniture builders are not happy with these fireplace ads. It damages their good reputation. One more note: I drive by the building where the heaters are packaged & shipped (by non-Amish) and in the winter the loading docks are full of UPS trailers. In the summer the docks are full with large dumpsters.

    4. Jim thanks for sharing some knowledge on this, interesting. Sounds like you are from the area?

    5. Magda Alberti

      Please, where can I buy your delicious chickens in Washington DC? They are the best!!!